gluten free

February Fennel

For those of you who remember my matcha post from last month, part of my New Year’s resolution this year was to try a new ingredient every month. For February, I chose fennel. Fennel’s health benefits include aiding in digestion, stomach upset, and immunity due to it’s high anti-acidic, fiber, and vitamin C content.  I’ve had in dishes at my favorite restaurant in Nashville, Margot Cafe, but I was intimidated to cook it. Much to my delight, after doing some research there were countless easy ways to prepare the daunting vegetable. For starters, an easy way to prep your fennel for however you chose to make it is to first chop the stalk off the top, then slice the end of the bulb off, cut the bulb in half and go from there. Below are two of my favorites from the month!

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Raw Dijon Slaw

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Ingredients
1 cup assorted shredded or julienne sliced vegetables (I used fennel, beets, carrots, cucumbers, and celery)
1/2 cup white beans
1-2 cups spinach
1-2 tbsp walnuts
1-2 tbsp dried cherries
Dressing: 1-2 tsp olive oil, 1-2 tbsp dijon mustard, 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and/or lemon juice, pepper to taste

Directions
1. Chop the vegetables into thin strips or use a vegetable grater or mandolin.
2. Mix dressing ingredients and toss with chopped vegetables.
3. Serve over spinach and top with white beans, walnuts, and dried cherries. (optional)

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Oven Roasted Lemon, Fennel, and Artichokes

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Ingredients
1 cup canned artichokes
1-2 tomatoes, sliced
1/2 lemon, sliced
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced
1/4 cup kamut (wheatberries), uncooked
Handful black olives
Dressing: 1-2 tsp olive oil, 1/2 lemon juiced, parsley, thyme, pepper to taste

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Prepare kamut according to package directions.
3. Line a baking sheet with foil and place fennel, artichokes, tomatoes, and lemon on it.
4. Mix dressing ingredients, pour over vegetables, and bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping in the middle.
5. Serve over kamut and top with olives. (optional)

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Brussels Sprouts Bonanza

So last week I bought a bag of brussels sprouts from Costco. With two pounds of raw brussels sprouts on my hands, I was determined to try as many different variations as possible throughout the week. To start I cut them all in half and roasted them at 425 for about 35 minutes, flipping them about halfway through. Then throughout the week I added this base to different recipes that you’ll find below.

My Classic Recipe

This is my go to recipe – the perfect mix of savory, sweet, and spicy. Roast with the remaining ingredients to intensify the flavor or simply add in afterwards. 

Ingredients
1 cup brussels sprouts
1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Drizzle of olive oil or melted coconut oil
Cinnamon and cayenne pepper
1-2 tsp maple syrup, optional

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

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Ingredients
1 cup brussels sprouts
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Lemon juice, basil, rosemary, oregano, crushed red pepper
Drizzle of olive oil, optional

Mix roasted brussel sprouts with remaining and ingredients. Shown here served with diced tomatoes and quinoa

Sriracha Lime Brussels Sprouts

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Ingredients
1 cup brussels sprouts
2 tbsp coconut aminos (or sub soy sauce)
Lime juice, sriracha, ginger, crushed red pepper, sesame seeds

Mix roasted brussel sprouts with remaining and ingredients. Shown here served with black rice, kale, peanuts, and a poached egg. For a perfect poached egg, simmer a pot of water, pour an egg in and gently swirl for 3-4 minutes as shown below.

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Brussels Sprouts “Hash”

This last recipe takes a spin on a classic breakfast side dish by using shredded brussels sprouts, sweet potato, kale, and avocado instead of white potato, sausage, and cheese. 

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Ingredients
1 cup shredded brussels sprouts (or roughly chop whole ones)
1/2 sweet potato, grated
1 tomato, diced
1 egg
Drizzle of olive oil or melted coconut oil
Thyme, cayenne pepper, rosemary, lemon pepper
1/4 avocado, optional

Pan fry all ingredients (except the egg) until softened. Add the egg in last and cook to your desired consistency. Top with avocado, if desired.

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Cold Peanut “Noodles” and Sesame Tempeh

One of my favorite appetizers at chinese food restaurants growing up was cold sesame noodles. So with some healthy substitutions (mainly the broccoli slaw in lieu of noodles), I was able to recreate this takeout fav! I think I liked this version even better because I didn’t feel bloated and sluggish after eating it. It’s so fresh and flavorful and the sauce is UNREAL. Seriously I ate it for dinner one night and then leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day. And I even thinned the sauce out with some extra coconut aminos and water and made a delicious salad dressing! If that’s not a good testimony, I don’t know what is. Enjoy 🙂

Ingredients
serves 2, with leftover sauce
1 package broccoli slaw, shredded carrots, or spiralized zucchini
1 package tempeh
2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup coconut aminos (or sub soy sauce)
1/4 cup peanut butter (I subbed half with PB2)
1 tbsp honey
Spices: sriracha, ginger, cilantro, crushed red pepper to taste

Directions
1. Blanch broccoli slaw by boiling for 2-3 minutes and then soaking in ice water. Optional, but I think it tastes better than completely raw veggies. Also feel free to cook them more thoroughly with a drizzle of sesame oil in a pan.
2. Chop tempeh into cubes and sautée them with a tsp of sesame oil for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown.
3. Blend all remaining ingredients and spices to make sauce.
4. Toss broccoli slaw with sauce until coated. Top with cooked tempeh and sesame seeds, optional.
5. You can eat it as is, or let sit 1-2 hours or overnight in the fridge (I think it tasted even better the next day!).

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Blueberry Lemon Compote

Last week a friend of mine showed me a recipe for blueberry lemon quinoa. At the same time I had been experimenting with different homemade jams with chia seeds. Chia seeds are great for creating a jam consistency because they expand to up to 10 times their size when combined with liquid. So long story short, I was just playing around in the kitchen one morning and ended up with this delicious compote that came together in just about 10 minutes!

Ingredients
1/4 cup blueberries
juice of one lemon
1/2 tbsp chia seeds
lemon zest or lemon oil (optional)

Directions
1. Mash ripe blueberries with the back of a fork.
2. Add lemon juice, chia seeds, and zest.
3. Stir well to combine and let sit for at least 10 minutes to let the chia seeds expand and thicken the compote.
4. Enjoy over oats, breakfast quinoa, toast, pancakes, or just with a spoon!

Notes
*This is just for about 1 serving, feel free to double or triple the recipe. It will keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge in an airtight container.
*If you’d like a smoother consistency, you can blend the lemon juice and blueberries before adding the chia seeds. Personally, I liked it chunkier.

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Monday Munchies: Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce

My latest grocery store find came just in time for Super Bowl Sunday! I used this amazing Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce from Trader Joe’s to make a delicious and healthy alternative to the classic Super Bowl appetizer, battered and greasy buffalo chicken wings. My version uses cauliflower as a base to soak up this finger-licking sauce!

BBQ Cauliflower Bites

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Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized florets
1 tbsp earth balance spread, melted (or sub olive or coconut oil)
1/4 cup TJ Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Roast cauliflower on a baking sheet with earth balance or oil for about 15 minutes.
3. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and return to the oven for another 15-20minutes.
4. Broil for an additional 5 minutes for extra crisp!

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Have Your (Carrot) Cake And Eat It Too

This is a really exciting post for me because it’s my first recipe entry using my new camera! Full disclosure, I may have spent an hour this morning alone taking pictures of my smoothie and various versions of homemade nut butters (stay tuned for that post!). I think I may be obsessed with this camera now…or maybe I just need my roommate to get back from winter break…

Anyway, maybe it’s because of my cinnamon addiction or having a pet bunny growing up rubbed off on me, but carrot cake is one of my favorite desserts. After much experimentation, I concocted a couple of healthy alternatives shared below – oatmeal muffins and a smoothie. Enjoy!

Carrot Almond Oatmeal Muffins

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makes 12 regular muffins or 24 minis

1.5 cups oats
1 cup shredded carrots
2 egg whites
1/4 cup almond butter
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup almond or coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract (optional or sub 1 tsp coconut oil)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1/2 scoop protein powder (optional)
Sliced almonds for topping (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until throughly mixed (it should look like the first picture below).
3. Spray or grease muffin tins (I used Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray – my fav), and fill each with 1-3 tbsp of batter depending on the size of your tins. Top with additional almond slices, if desired (I used Trader Joe’s Honey Roasted Almond Slices – another staple in my pantry).
4. Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
5. They’re great with a drizzle of honey or almond butter as well!

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Carrot Cake Smoothie 

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1 cup almond or coconut milk
1 cup shredded carrots
1-2 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract (optional or sub 1 tsp coconut oil)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1 date, pitted or half a banana
Ice cubes
1/4 cup oats to thicken, if desired
Optional boosts: 1-2 tbsp ground flax, protein powder, chia seeds, etc.

Directions:
Blend all ingredients until smooth.

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Breakfast for Dinner

I don’t know about y’all, but breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day. So why limit yourself to eating it in the mornings? Cooking breakfast for dinner is a great way to switch up your normal routine (and it’s generally cheaper!). This post is a bit of a throwback for me – I made this Breakfast for Dinner feast with my best friend, Stacey a few months back. She’s been galavanting around Europe for the past couple weeks, so I’ve been missing my partner in crime cuisine here in Nashville.

The following recipes are lighter versions of your typical carbo-loaded, sugary breakfast staples. They’re vegan and gluten-free friendly as well.

Chia Seed French Toast

adapted from the blog, Minimalist Baker

Ingredients
1 heaping tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tbsp agave nectar (or your choice sweetener)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your choice milk)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4-5 slices bread (I went with a seeded whole grain loaf, but any bread or GF substitute would work)

Directions
1. Mix all ingredients except the bread in a large, shallow bowl. Place in the fridge to allow the chia seeds to thicken the batter.
2. Heat your choice butter or oil (I used coconut oil cooking spray from Trader Joe’s) in a pan or griddle over medium heat.
3. Dip each slice of bread in the batter until most (if not all) of the batter is absorbed into each side.
4. Place on pan or griddle and cook until golden brown on the underside. Carefully flip and cook until the other side is golden brown as well (approximately 3-5 minutes a side, depending on the thickness of the bread).

Vegan Snickerdoodle Pancakes

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adapted from the blog, Chocolate Covered Katie

Ingredients
1/2 cup flour (I used Bob’s all purpose GF mix)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp milk of choice (or more, for thinner pancakes)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Approximately 1/16 tsp salt (don’t omit)
*they suggested using 1 tbsp of sugar, but I omitted it and just drizzled mine with maple syrup afterwards

Directions
1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Heat your choice butter or oil (I used coconut oil cooking spray from Trader Joe’s) in a pan or griddle over medium heat.
3. Cook each side until golden brown, timing depends on the size/thickness of your pancakes.

Foolproof Poached Eggs

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I struggled with poached eggs for weeks trying to perfect my own. The secret that I found worked best was to stir the simmering water to create a mini whirlpool before slowly dropping the egg into the pot. Cook for 3-4 minutes maximum for the ultimate yolk porn. 

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This is one of my favorite go-to meals: sweet potato and kale hash (topped with a poached egg of course) – definitely be sure to look out for that post coming soon! For now just look at that yolk and try not to drool.

Tabouli Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

If I had to pick one type of ethnic food to live off of I would have to choose Mediterranean. Between the hummus, pita, olives, and salmon, I think I’d be set for life. So naturally, I’ve been wanting to try to make my own lemon tahini dressing, and I thought I might as well go the whole nine yards with the Mediterranean trend and make a tabouli salad as well.

My first attempt at the dressing was a complete and total fail. The recipe I was following added soy sauce and sesame oil, which it gave it more of an Asian feel rather than the tart lemony goodness I was hoping for. But thankfully, a la elementary school, “first is the worst, second is the best…” and my second try was AMAZING.

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 Ingredients
serves 1-2

salad:
2 cups chopped kale
1 cup sliced cucumbers
1/2 cup tomatoes (I used asst. cherry tomatoes)
couple tbsp fresh mint and parsley coarsely chopped
1/2 cup cooked black rice (traditional tabouli calls for bulgar, but I already had the rice on hand)
handful Saffron Road Crunchy Chickpeas (or canned, but these are more flavorful and add a nice texture)

dressing (adapted from Oh She Glows, one of my favorite food blogs!)
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons juiced)
1/4 Nutritional Yeast (I was very skeptical about the whole concept of nutritional yeast, but I was pleasantly surprised! Definitely made a positive difference in the taste.)
2 tbsp olive oil
3+ tbsp water
salt/pepper to taste

Directions
1. Put all dressing ingredients together and blend until smooth
2. Pour some dressing over the kale and massage for a minute or so
3. Mix in the remaining salad ingredients
4. Top with additional dressing and crunchy chickpeas

Wow, I’m kinda obsessed with this dressing now. The next day, I ate the leftovers with avocado and cucumbers on a rice cake and dipped baby carrots in it, too. Enjoy!

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Spotlight on Sweet Potatoes

Forget butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon as the only toppings for sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes can be a quick, easy, and filling lunch, and they are surprisingly versatile. Below are some of my favorite, out of the box accoutrements for a baked sweet potato. I know some of them may seem rather peculiar, but just give them a chance and I promise that you will be pleasantly surprised! Also, a lot of people have been asking me recently how I have so much time to cook during the school year. It’s all about finding shortcuts and planning. If you microwave the sweet potato for 6 minutes or so, depending on the size (make sure you pierce it first or it WILL explode, trust me) or bake a few ahead of time for the week, these recipes (except for the last one) will take 10 minutes or less, including clean-up – promise!

1. Almond Butter

Shown here with almond butter, shredded coconut, and cinnamon. Also try dried fruit (my favorite is dried cherries!)

Shown here with almond butter, shredded coconut, and cinnamon. Also try dried fruit (my new favorite is dried cherries!).

2. Guacamole

Shown here with homemade guacamole* and crushed tortilla chips. Also try black beans, peppers, and cheese.

Shown here with homemade guacamole and crushed tortilla chips. Also try black beans, peppers, and cheese.

**For easy homemade guacamole, mix William Sonoma Guacamole Starter or tomatillo salsa with fresh avocados** 

3. Loaded Breakfast Style

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Shown here with arugula, yellow cherry tomatoes, sunny side up egg, rosemary, lemon pepper, and cayenne pepper.

4. Hummus

Shown here with one of my favorite hummuses (...hummi?), TJ Three Layer Hummus - it has roasted red pepper, traditional, and cilantro. Also great with fresh veggies and pita chips!

Shown here with one of my favorite hummuses (…hummi?), TJ Three Layer Hummus – it has roasted red pepper, traditional, and cilantro. Also great with fresh veggies and pita chips for dipping!

5. Curried Sweet Potato

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Shown here with Greek yogurt (instead of mayo), curry, and cilantro, dried cherries, and walnuts. To really infuse the flavor, scoop out the sweet potato flesh and mix thoroughly with yogurt/mayo and spices (a little goes a long way – I used just a tablespoon or so of yogurt), then top with dried fruit and nuts.

6. “Fries”

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The secret to crispy oven baked “fries” is to soak the cut sweet potatoes in water for 30 minutes or more (even overnight!). Then, in a plastic bag put your choice spices (I used rosemary and cayenne pepper) and 1 tbsp of cornstarch or flour per whole potato used. Shake the fries until lightly coated and place on a nonstick baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over them and bake at 425F for 15-25 minutes, or until golden brown, and flip them about halfway through.

I served these with black bean burgers from the blog of my favorite trainer/singer/master chef, Megan Conner. For the recipe, check out her awesome blog here! The only change to the recipe I made was that I used black rice instead of red quinoa because that’s what I had in my pantry. Shout out to my PR/chef partner-in-crime, Julia Gabriel, for helping me out with these – warning these are difficult to make, but so worth it!
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Shown here on a bed of arugula, topped with with avocado, BBQ sauce and honey mustard, which is also great together for dipping the fries (yes, together – don’t knock it til you try it!).

I hope y’all enjoy trying some of these new variations of sweet potatoes, and let me know if you have any cool ones of your own!

Fun fact - sweet potatoes are a healthy, human snack for dogs. And this one sure seemed to enjoy it!

Fun fact – sweet potatoes are a healthy, human snack for dogs. And this one sure seemed to enjoy it!